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Change How You Think About Fitness

Not so little known fact: I really enjoy going to the gym.

So much so, that I like to encourage people in the gym, encourage people to go to the gym, and encourage people to integrate fitness into their lifestyle. As we approach the prime time of year to start getting fit, I wanted to share a few thoughts in hopes of helping someone successfully integrate fitness into their 2017.

This post will be the first of a handful. The first post is for those of us who are just starting out and need direction in beginning our journey. I say “us” because some days I have to remind myself of the very things I’m going to address.

In line with our #HawkDG coping with personal change strategy, I’ll touch on three quick aspects to proactively integrate this new change: Mental – Actionable – Tangible

MENTAL: Remove the Modifier

“I’ll go to the gym, if I can make time.”
“I’ll workout, if I get off early.”
“I’ll workout, until I can fit in these pants.”
“I’ll go to the gym, if I feel like it.”

All of these statements have one thing in common: a built-in excuse. The biggest challenge with incorporating a new change, especially one as significant as fitness, is getting out of your own way.

“I’m going to workout.”

No modifier. No loophole. No excuse. This is something you’re committed to doing. You’re no longer giving yourself an out, because you’re committing to yourself. You’re holding yourself accountable. No workout plan, nutrition plan, or gym location will work if you’re not committed to yourself.

The first step is both saying it out loud, and internalizing it each, and every, day.

ACTIONABLE: Prepare for the Day

“What am I wearing today/tomorrow?”

This simple question outlines everything you intend to accomplish for that specific day. If you have to go to work, you pick out your work clothes. Church? Church clothes. Shopping? Comfortable shopping clothes. The simple act of choosing your clothes is an intentional step to determining your day’s success criteria.

When determining your attire for the day’s activities, pick out your gym clothes also. You’re now adding the “going to the gym” as part of your day’s success criteria. Though selecting your clothes is only step 1. Step 2? The moment you come home from work/school/shopping, immediately change into your gym clothes. It doesn’t matter if you’re not going to the gym for another few hours, change clothes anyway.

This forms the habit of: home -> change -> workout. Both your brain and your body will come to expect it, and it eventually becomes a part of your daily routine.

TANGIBLE: Build your own Momentum

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

This is a really cheesy way of saying, “it’s going to be hard, take it one thing at a time”. Changing your approach to personal fitness is no exception. The early stages of personal fitness involve proving to yourself that you can actually do it. Often we get discouraged because we try to do too much, too soon. How do we combat this? Start small.

Maybe the idea of lifting weights terrifies you. Maybe you’re afraid of “embarrassing” yourself in public. Perhaps you’ve never walked longer than 10 minutes at a time. No matter your starting point, it’s okay to start small.

Start with a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood three times a week. Or maybe, commit to doing body weight exercises two times a week at home. You could even pull those set of dumbbells out of the garage and commit to using them two times a week. Set a specific time that you will do this, to hold yourself accountable. No one said you had to walk in the gym and start immediately working on your bench press. That’s an easy way to discourage yourself and potentially hurt yourself.

This will very much be a process and it starts with establishing some healthy habits. Building momentum will allow us to push further when we’re ready to get even more serious.

In the next post, we’ll look at the Mental, Actionable, and Tangible categories for addressing the nutritional aspect of fitness. Proper nutrition is arguably harder than committing to physical activity, and without a doubt even more important.

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